As a first time puppy parent, I was a lot like the first time parent of a human child!
Anytime my puppy sneezed, fell over, or acted a bit strange, I was 100% sure she was deathly ill, which was far from true!
The fact of the matter is sometimes puppies act funny! Sometimes, a puppy breathing fast while sleeping or erratically, can be terrifying. Should we be so scared?
All About Rapid Puppy Breathing
Because most puppies are very small, you might barely be able to notice a puppy breathing fast while sleeping. The first thing you need to know how to recognize is if your puppy breathing fast while sleeping and what it looks like.
This video gives a good example of what you might see:
The “Why” Of This Issue
So now you’re probably wondering – why is my puppy breathing fast while sleeping?
There are a few basic scenarios when your pup might be breathing fast that are pretty easy to understand.
If your puppy was just playing outside in warm weather. If your pup breathes fast after this, it is completely normal. The panting is just to help them catch their breath! Giving them time to cool down and some water will help their breathing return to normal in no time.
In most cases, your pup will be breathing hard because they over-exerted themselves a little bit too much. Still, there are a few cases where you should know a little bit more about this breathing difference. Let’s go through them in the rest of this article.
Puppy Breathing Fast While Sleeping? Here’s Why
Sometimes, we look over at our sleeping puppies, and they look absolutely adorable. At other times, we look over, and we can’t help but notice that their breathing seems to be happening too rapidly or irregularly. They may even be twitching or whining.
Why is that?
- It’s natural!
It’s very common – and even expected – for puppies to breathe heavier while they are sleeping. Even human infants tend to show this behavior, so while it may be alarming, you don’t have too much to worry about.
- They could be dreaming.
In some cases, your puppy might be dreaming! Maybe something scary is happening, or maybe they’re just getting excited in their dream! Either way, this speeding up of their breath isn’t cause for concern.
- Their bodies are growing.
While it may be scary, sleep is an important time for puppies and their bodies to grow and develop, and rapid breathing is actually part of that development. Unless accompanied by anything scary than a few minutes of fast breathing, don’t worry about your puppy breathing fast while sleeping!
When Things Get More Serious
As with many not-so-serious conditions, there are a few times when you should have a vet look at your puppy because of their rapid breathing. Let’s take a closer look.
Medically Concerning Situations
Rapid Breathing and Medical Concerns
You’re probably wondering when rapid breathing can be used as an indicator of a more serious health problem, and that is a good thing to know as a pet owner!
There are some issues that have rapid breathing as a symptom, among others. If your pet is breathing rapidly and has other symptoms as well, please see a vet.
Rapid breathing is usually related to lung-related issues, such as asthma or kennel cough. Both of these conditions aren’t very serious, but more intense medical conditions such as bleeding lungs or pulmonary edema can also be the cause.
So how do you know when the risk is high?
If rapid breathing is accompanied by any type of regular, chronic coughing, a more serious medical cause is likely behind the breathing problems. Often, you’ll notice this when you pup stands up from a nap or just lays down. If you notice these issues, visit a vet.
In some cases, rapid breathing can be related to heart issues. Conditions like anemia, tumors, and low oxygen levels can all feature rapid breathing as a symptom.
Anytime that you notice your pup breathing rapidly with a not-so-obvious cause such as sleep, hot weather, or exercise, go to the vet. Your puppy deserves it!
Swollen Bellies and Rapid Breathing
When panicked about your dog’s rapid breathing, you may even notice that their belly seems to be a bit larger than usual, almost like it is swollen. While a big, swollen tummy can be scary, it’s not always as bad as it looks.
Puppies who eat too quickly might get a big tummy. Why? Because they took in too much air while they were eating, and this air builds up in the tummy until it is gradually released. This ailment is mild, and nothing to worry about.
Another reason could be something like worms. While worms sound scary, dogs can actually get them from their mothers, and it is quite common for puppies to be afflicted with them at a young age. All it takes to neutralize this condition (and get rid of the heavy breathing) is a de-worming treatment at the vet!
If rapid breathing and a swollen tummy happen alongside these conditions:
- Loss of appetite
- Constant lethargy
- Trouble sleeping
- Groaning or whining
Then there is probably a bigger issue. If you suspect this, it is time to seek out a vet.
When Breathing Fast Becomes Regular
There are a few situations that aren’t really a cause for concern initially but can become problematic if they become regular occurrences.
Puppies, Breathing, and Stress
It’s natural for a puppy to be stressed when they first join your family. After all, they just left their mother, they have a whole new world to explore, and they are still growing into their body. That’s a lot to deal with!
Some dogs do great with this life change and take in the adventure of new people, a new home, and everything that comes with it.
Other dogs become very anxious at the loss of their family and the owners they had become accustomed to. If you push them to do too much when they first join your family, your puppy may become stressed in a way that causes them to breathe too rapidly.
If this anxiety lasts as your dog becomes an adult, it could cause long-term problems.
So, here’s what you need to do:
- Be gentle with your new puppy
- Let them explore at their own pace
- Don’t overwhelm them with too many tricks or people
- Train in small sessions, rather than long ones
- Don’t yell at them for not knowing how to do everything right away
From a medical standpoint, there is nothing that you need to do for your puppy besides make them comfortable and take your time caring for them. In time, your puppy will grow used to your home and be just as comfortable there as they were in their original home!
Rapid Breathing and Panting
Sometimes, after your dog starts breathing more rapidly, you may notice that they begin to pant. If your dog is panting and you aren’t sure why, it can be a little scary.
Before you panic, however, step back and think about what the cause could be:
- Was your dog just playing outside?
- Did your dog just run around the house?
- Are there visitors over?
- Is it almost mealtime?
In all of these situations, it is possible for your dog to get over-excited. This can cause their body to warm up, so it is likely that your dog will begin panting to try to cool back down. That’s how dogs catch their breath!
If, however, your pup’s panting is accompanied with vomiting, lethargy, or any other adverse conditions, it’s time to talk to the vet, as these could be signs of a more serious issue.
Keep An Eye On Your Pup, But Don’t Panic!
As you can see through most of this article, there are times a puppy breathing fast while sleeping for a prolonged period of time definitely warrants a visit to the vet. This isn’t all the time, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry as a pet owner.
After all, your puppy relies on you to keep them healthy and safe!
Still, don’t panic if your dog is breathing rapidly or if your puppy breathing fast while sleeping. This is a pretty common part of puppy life, and only an indicator of something more serious if accompanied by secondary symptoms that are concerning.